How to make bones strong

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Bones are empty and in a typically adult male, the whole skeleton weighs less than 3 kg. Everyone builds bone up to the age of 30, and then, the process of bone resorption begins. It is, therefore, important for children to build strong bones so that they are not susceptible to fractures when they grow old. Here are some tips:

• For maximizing big bone mass during the bone forming years, one should live a healthy lifestyle, which includes adequate calcium intake, adequate vitamin D intake, optimal physical activity and avoidance of smoking and alcohol.

• To prevent subsequent bone loss in adults, one should adopt a similar approach, which includes regular weight-bearing exercise, avoidance of over-smoking and limitation of alcohol to an average of not more than 2 drinks per day.

• Cigarette smoking is associated with reduced bone mass and increased risk of fractures.

• Calcium supplements are recommended. The recommended daily intake of calcium for post menopausal females is 1200 mg daily (double diet + supplements).

• Vitamin D supplementation is recommended if dietary intake is inadequate. In India, the recommendation is 2000 units per day.

• It is recommended that 40% of the body should be exposed uninterruptedly for 40 minutes to sunlight for 40 days in a year so that the body can form adequate vitamin D.

• Regarding weight-bearing exercises, the general recommendation is a minimum of 30 minutes of physical activity such brisk walking on most, if not all, days of the week.

• Heavy alcohol intake predisposes to hip fractures due to osteoporosis.

• Heavy drinking means more than 14 drinks in a week. One drink is equivalent to 30 ml of whiskey.

• Many drugs including steroids and antiepileptic drugs can cause bone thinning over a period of time.